Australia coach Cheika shows his hand with strongest team to face Fiji

first_img Australia’s flanker David Pocock (L), Australia’s head coach Michael Cheika (C) and Australia’s hooker and captain Stephen Moore (R) give a press conference in Bath Will Genia and Bernard Foley line up at half-backs, with Michael Hooper and David Pocock getting the nod in the back row LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS When Australia play on Wednesday against Fiji, only minnows Namibia and Romania will not yet have kicked off their World Cup.Having had a chance to see pool rivals England and Wales in action, Michael Cheika has selected what would appear to be his strongest side to face Fiji.While most of the team is as expected, his choices cleared up a few positions, notably that the back row combination of Michael Hooper and David Pocock should get the nod against England and Wales.For the hosts that is particularly concerning, with their breakdown work having been under par in their warm-up games and their opening win over the Fijians.England have managed to nullify Hooper by blasting him off the ball in recent clashes between the teams, but with Pocock playing as well, Australia look a formidable prospect at the breakdown.More interesting was what Australia would do in the half-backs, and Cheika has gone for a new-look combination with Will Genia and Bernard Foley.Reds teammates Genia and Quade Cooper and Waratahs duo Nick Phipps and Foley have generally been paired together this year, but for the Fiji clash, Cheika has mixed things up.Genia impressed against the USA in the Wallabies’ final warm-up game, and at his best is one of the world’s top scrum-halves.center_img He’s not shown that form for a couple of years though, and it’s not clear whether he will ever rediscover it.Foley has endured an up-and-down year, and while he has generally outshone Cooper, he’s not been as impressive as he was last season.Still, on form he looks to be a better bet than the Reds playmaker, and if Cheika continues to see Matt Toomua as only an inside centre, Foley should keep that job.Elsewhere the question over who will start in the second row for the big games alongside Rob Simmons appears to have been answered, with Kane Douglas getting the nod.The former Leinster lock earned a spot in the team despite only returning to Australian rugby over the summer.Finally Scott Sio’s improved scrummaging sees him preferred to James Slipper at loosehead, while on the wing the reliable Rob Horne is in over the more explosive Henry Speight and Joe Tomane. Australia: Folau; Ashley-Cooper, Kuridrani, Giteau, Horne; Foley, Genia; Sio, Moore (capt), Kepu, Douglas, Simmons, Fardy, Hooper, Pocock. Replacements: Polota-Nau, Slipper, Holmes, Skelton, Mumm, Phipps, Toomua, Beale.last_img read more